Arrived in Hyderabad

Lovely Dosa Marsala for breakfast before my Kingfisher flight from Hyderabad to Bangalore. Alejandra and Ray got a later flight. Arrived in Bangalore in good time, but then had a crawl across town to get to the hotel, Le Meridien . Rushed through check in and a quick freshen up in the hotel (it’s a lot warmer here than in Hyderabad). Got met by Mr Ravi, the chauffeur from Molecular Connections who drove me out to their offices. Was met by Krishnaveni, Mr Jignesh’s PA, who was waiting for me with a bunch of flowers, which was lovely. I was whisked up stairs to inaugurate a new roof-top terrace on the building. I was daubed with a red spot on my forehead and then lit a five-wicked lamp, surrounded by chrysanthemum petals. Then was wrapped in a silk shawl and cut the ribbon to the Terrace, stepping over with my right foot first. The terrace is very nice, and will be the focus of the company. I made a quick speech. We had a short tour of the building and then met the main managers, before I inaugurated a couple of posters, cutting the ribbons again! Great fun.

Graham cloak

Molecular Connections

Jignesh

Had a very good presentation from the chemical team, covering some recent projects. All were very impressive and knowledgeable. As I left, I was presented with a framed photo of my inaugurated of the terrace and my shawl in a nice box! All quite overwhelming. Great visit. In the car for 4.30 again and headed back to the hotel. Met up with Alejandra, Ray and with the members of the UK delegation for the 2nd RSC–CRSI Symposium on the Chemical Sciences. We went for dinner with other speaker at the Jawhar Visitor Centre at the Indian Institute of Science. This is one of the lovely guest houses. We met Prof Maitra and Prof Chandrasekeran, who were hosting the meal. It was a lovely evening on the lawn, mingling with the speakers.

Graham <dot>

Institute of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad

Jumped in a taxi very early to go out to the first anniversary celebrations for a new Institute of Life Sciences at the University of Hyderabad. It’s an intersting place. We were guests of Dr Reddy’s Lab, who have funded the institute and we were made very welcome by Prof. Javed Iqbal, the director of the ILS. The building is very impressive, and is already being extended even as it people are moving in!).

Institute of Life Sciences, Graham, Ale and Ray Institute of Life Sciences

We left at four to make our way back across town to do a bit of sightseeing. Our taxi driver, Mr Somi Reddy, was great and stayed with us the whole day. He was a bit stubborn about where we should go though!

The Charminar

Apple stall beside the Charminar Alejandra, Ray and Graham the Charminar, Hyderabad Grape stall near the Charminar

First of all we went to the Charminar gate, in the middle of a great, lively market. The Charminar was beautifully lit, and I enjoyed walking around the market that sold lots of fresh fruit all around. We really only had time to stop and take a few photos, but then walked up to the Mecca Masjid. We had a look around the temple and went inside. Had a rather dull tour of some tombstones that were all the same and then got fleeced for money for the poor. The temple was impressive.

Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad

We went to visit a hindu temple. It was really lovely on a hill overlooking the city and very peaceful. We couldn’t take cameras or phones in so we left them with the taxi driver (It was amazing how many we had!) Ray had mentioned something about pearls and the taxi driver dropped us off at a jewelry shop specialising in pearls. We got a pleasant but predictable hard sell (the only one of the day really). I looked at pearl/silver sings for Michael but they were pretty tatty. Both Alejandra and Ray bought some small pieces.

We finally went to Necklace Road, a famous road in Hyderabad. The lake is a bit stagnant and a bit smelly! We ate at Waterfont, on Necklace Road which wasn’t as good as our hotel, but the view out of the window was nice. Had a good South Indian meal.

IICT, Hyderabad

Slept until 3, then dozed until 5, then up and cleared some e-mail and had a chat with Michael online , he was staying up late. Met Alejandra and Ray for breakfast at 8. We were aiming to get a taxi at 9, to visit Avra Laboratories about 9.30. We didn’t get into the taxi until 9.10 because of the complications of booking it in the hotel. Then, to make things even slower, the taxi driver got lost four times despite two phone calls to Avra’s. The route there was quite difficult though.

We had a very interesting hour at Avra’s, then Ray and I left at 11 to go over to IICT for a lecture and tour of the lab. Our taxi driver managed the journey okay that time (we had passed the site the way to Avras).

We had a great welcome at the IICT. Dr Kunwar was a very warm and friendly host, as was the Director, Dr Yadav. We gave our RSC lecture to about 25 staff and had a very good discussion led by Dr Yadav, who was a strong facilitator for the group. We had a good lunch and then a tour of the labs which were excellent. I forgot to take any photographs of this lab tour, which is unlike me. The library is good and we met the staff there.

A department car took us back to the hotel where we met up with Alejandra who had been visiting a different company on the North of the City. Started writing our trip reports over a beer and then dinner in the hotel is a different restaurant specialising in Dashkin, Southern Indian cuisine. The meal was good, but not as good as last night.

  • Uralai Kelangu Podimas (Aubergine in a tamarind sauce-quite bitter)
  • Kothimiri Vankai Koora (Potatoes I think)
  • Cauliflower Melagu Perratti (spicy cauliflower)

all with appam, puri and porotta breads. The puri were very good and the appam freshly made in the restaurant. After two nights of almost no sleep I’m now pretty shattered!

Dakshin Restaurant, Alejandra, Graham and Ray

Peshawri

Had a couple of hours doze this afternoon then did some work. Met up with Alejandra and Ray in the 16th floor for a drink at 6pm. Tried some Sula wine which was very nice (and reasonable price) and then headed off to Peshawri restaurant in the hotel. Described as “World famous for its North-west Frontier Cuisine. The ambience is decidedly rugged and you can even watch the meal being prepared”. Not sure about the ‘rugged’ but it was relaxed and the vegetarian food was excellent. Had great cauliflower tandoori phool, delicate biryani and lovely breads, also a lovely black lentil dhal. The hotel is fiercely airconditioned and I had to wear my fleece when I was out of my room. Bbbrr!

Ray and Alejandra 2, Peshawri

In the photo Alejandra is sporting the lovely, fetching apron/napkins that were part of the rugged theme of the restaurant. They were potentially a very good idea as we were eating the meal with our fingers.

Arrived in Hyderabad

Alejandra and I were picked up at 9.30 in the morning to go to Heathrow, flying BA to Bangalore and then Kingfisher onto Hyderabad. The whole journey went very smoothly.  We met Ray Jones on the plane and had good seats that meant we had a good, straightforward journey. Watched The Darjeeling Ltd., which was enjoyable but a dark comedy that played with my head on a flight, and also the much more straightforward Run Fat Boy Run. Yet more Simon Pegg, being, Simon Pegg. Tried some cryptic crossword from the Guardian… not a success (yet!). We had five hours to kill in Bangalore Airport, an hour of which was spent waiting for the baggage to arrive. It was as if one person was unloading the whole plane. We holed up for 4 more hours in the restaurant and had some dosa, idly, vada and  uttapum: the dosa was particularly nice! Also had breakfast on the Kingfisher flight to Hyderabad, that wasn’t so nice. I struggled to stay awake on this flight and it was only a Cartoon Network show of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends that kept my eyes open.

 We’re staying at the Kakatiyain Hyderabad, which is very nice. We checked in on the 16th floor, where we have a little desk. I haven’t worked out what the deal is with that yet. Hyderabad was lovely and sunny, clean and bright.  I’ve had a couple of hours dozing to help get over the worst of the travel, and meeting up with Ale and Ray in three hours. So some time to get John a few things that he wanted for a paper he’s writing and to get sorted out for tomorrow. A couple of shots from the hotel.

View from my room in the Kakatiya, Hyderabad Pool view from my room in the Kakatiya, Hyderabad

Iridescence

I (finally) enjoyed Iridescence by Peter Wells. The book was a present from Steven a couple of years ago and I found the it difficult to get into, the first few chapters are heavy and written in great detail, which I found over the top. Past these few chapters (with Michael’s encouragement) the books becomes gripping and a real page turner. The action moved from New Zealand to London and back, with some real twists to the plot and surprises. I enjoyed the observations about life in Napier when it was being settled.

The book was inspired by the story of Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park who were infamous cross dressers in a sensational trial in the 1870s. The story in Iridescence includes the trial but mainly deals with what might have happened afterwards. The Boulton and Park duo also inspired one of the raunchier stories in the Sins of the Cities of the Plain, which was written about 10 years after the trial.

From this web page a ‘before’ and after of Frederick Park:

park01a.jpg park01b.jpg
and one of the pair from this web page:
boulton-park.jpg
Cover of Iridescence

Julius Caeser

Michael and I went to see Julius Caeser Julius Ceaser Poster at the ADC Theatre last night by the European Theatre Group. I dozed through much of the first act, after only four hours sleep last night, so I didn’t see much of the stage action (I didn’t miss Mark Antony’s topless scenes though). Marc Antony (Rob Carter) delivered some great speeches and his passion was very powerful, and the end of the first act was dramatic after his excellent ‘Lend me your ears’ speech and an on-stage rape. The cast all looked muted when they came back for the short second half and looked like they had run out of steam, so the death scenes were a bit limp. Rob Carter looked a bit bored. Edward Rice is a good actor (e.g. in Nineteen Eighty Four) but wasn’t at all right for the character of Marcus Brutus.
From the web site:

Pompey defeated, Julius Caesar returns to Rome, flushed with triumph. But Rome has changed, and talk of assassination lurks behind every column… Cambridge University European Theatre Group’s 50th anniversary production of one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies brings the political intrigue of Ancient Rome into a modern setting in which our barbarism and ambition are revealed in the relationships with those closest to us. Morality is forgotten in the lust for power, love is cast viciously aside, and the true nature of honour is finally realised.
ETG was founded in 1957 by a group of students including Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen, who toured Europe in a fruit van.

CalDav Server

Michael’s been a real star today and screen-capture.png set up a CalDav server on our local area network so that we can share joint calendars. He’s been using DAViCal for this, which seems to have worked very well. There’s still a lot of calendar setting up to do, but the import of my personal calendar .ics seems to have been straightforward (so far!). This will work with our MAC iCal calendars and is working with Evolution on Ubuntu. I don’t think I could have set this up…

Wine+

Craig, Michael and I went down to London for Wine Plus at Olympia. For today my job title was ‘Wine Buyer’ for the Free Press, and Michael was the Bar Manager. We had some excellent wines. I was most excited about the Portuguese Taste Zone and a large exhibition of Greek Wines.

We started the day at about 11 with a tasting of French Wines from the Loire at the French Discovery Lounge. This was fun, but I enjoyed browsing the wines more, there were in excess of 100 from all parts of France available and the choice was fantastic. The staff were from a Wine Making Degree in the south of the UK, and it was interesting chatting with them.
We spent a good 20 mins with a very helpful man from Indigo Wine, Ben Henshaw. We tried some nice wine from his selection. Sadly I lost my notes.
pedro ximenez reservaHighlight of the new taste experiences today were four wines from Alvear in the south of Spain in the Pedro Ximénez range. There were also lovely sherries and we started with an impressive Fino en Rama de Añada: “En Rama” means that it is unblended and has not been filtered to enhance its individuality. It is the first “single vintage” Fino in modern history (apparently). We also tried the Pedro Ximénez Añada, Solera, Cosecha ad Reserva which wines that get darker and darker through the range made from dried raisins. By the time we were tasting Reserva it was like syrup of figs, but gorgeous. Must try and get some of these, they are very luxurious and unusual.
For the Greek Wines, I tried some from Domaine Sigalas and from Ino Wines. I was more attracted to Ino wines are they produced more of the varietals: Savatiano, Moschofilero, Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko and Mavrodaphne. The Mavrodaphne was very nice (as usual) and the man behind the stand, Nick, was the same person who did the wine tasting in Cambridge about a year ago. He might be contacting Craig to do a tasting at the Free Press, which would be fun. He’s a Greek Wine evangelist (he’s also Greek).
Has some lunch in a pub close by Olympia and a bit of a rest (with beer amazingly for one of us), then headed back for more tasting!
Craig introduced us to Australian Margaret River wine, from Arlewood. The Semillon was lovely and smokey and the Deviation Road Pinot Noir was very good too.
At 5.15 we went to one of the highlights of the day: Be A Free Spirit with Cheese, Patricia Michelson from La Fromagerie in London was matching fantastic cheeses with spirits in unusual combinations. This finished me off for alcohol as there were nine lovely and generous spirits to match the nine cheeses:

  • Perry, paired with, Pont L’eveque cheese from Normandy
  • Lustau Oloroso Sherry, paired with Parmigiano Reggiano 3 Year Reggio Emilia
  • Madeira, paired with Tomme de Corse Corscian cheese
  • Jamaican Vintage Rum, paired with Explorateur, Ile de France (gorgeous full fat extra creamy cheese)
  • Valvados, paired with Livarot from Normandy
  • Glenfiddich 15 Year Whisky, paired with Doddington Wooler from Northumberland (a great cheese, 2 years old) and a bit like dutch mature cheese
  • 15 Year old Armagnac, paired with Dry Charolais from Burgundy
  • Marc de Bourgogne, paired with St Marcellin aux Marx de Raison Isere/Dauphine
  • Grappa Nosiola, paired with Gorgonzola Naturale, Picenza from Lombary (a lovely cheese)

The spirits were arranged by Will Smith, Sommelier at Arbutus and were all very nice. This was a really impressive tasting, all the glasses out in the style of a high-class restaurant with lovely long platters for the cheese. I was very impressed

We tried some lovely wine from Denbies Wine Estate in the UK; The women behind the counter were especially lovely as we were a bit rambly by then having drunk more than we ‘spat’. The Redland Pinot Noir/Dornfelder was good, as was the Greenfields Cuvée. They are the biggest wine producers in the UK, based in Dorking and I feel a visit coming on when we are down that way in the late summer next year.

We headed towards the rum stands on the way out. Craig had been looking forward to this all day. I preferred to veer across the passage to the stand of Jean-Paul Metté where we ‘smelt’ some really wonderful Eau de Vie D’Alsace: cinnamon, fruits and garlic! (for cooking). The Marc de Gewurztraminer was especially lovely.

Jean-Paul Mette

So we staggered out about 6.45 and bravely walked to Earls Court after missing the silly train from Olympia to there. All the trains from King’s Cross were cancelled because of signal failures and we ended up standing all the way home on a slow train from Liverpool Street, swaying for several reasons!